By Jason SchneiderWith his three-album binge in ‘05, fans of Ryan Adams got to experience the impetuous singer-songwriter’s swings between hardcore country, rustic psychedelia, and bleak introspection on a grand scale. But all of them have blended together on his latest effort, Easy Tiger, and the result is the most concise and immediately satisfying solo record he has made since his 2000 debut, Heartbreaker.
"The last two years probably weren’t as intense as they should have been,” Adams says. "That’s because making all this stuff was just really fun. I think everyone around me was up to the task of working hard, and because of that we managed to capture a lot of great songs that otherwise would have been lost.”
Adams’s main support throughout has been his band the Cardinals, and although he played many of the parts on Easy Tiger himself, he leans heavily on their almost Grateful Dead-like versatility and reliability. "A lot of these tunes I wasn’t totally confident about at first,” Adams says. "But the way I managed to live in them was to get input from those guys on which ones to do. They always picked the hardest ones, the ones with the heaviest emotional information, and that ultimately gave me a different perspective on the entire album.”
That perspective is a more mature one, summed up best on Easy Tiger’s closing track, "Taught Myself How To Grow Old,” a poignant confession that Adams is prepared for the long haul, much like Willie Nelson, whom he produced last year. "That’s the song I was waiting for, and I think I wrote it in about five minutes,” he says. "I believe that artists shouldn’t be afraid to do what others might perceive as missteps. Those always seem to precede an epiphany, and that song was an epiphany for me.”